Pleasant design and sophisticated ergonomics, Paps presents itself as the first geolocated on-demand delivery application in French-speaking Africa. Four months after its launch in Senegal, its founder is already dreaming of setting up abroad.
Bouquets of flowers accompanied by a note, keys forgotten in the locker room of a gym, cakes for surprise birthdays … For the delivery people of Paps, the requests follow one another and are not alike. “The last time, one of our clients ended up at the airport without their ticket. We only had an hour to pick it up and bring it back, ”recalls Bamba Lo, the founder of the app.
The principle of Paps is simple: after registering within seconds, the user uses the application’s algorithm to find the nearest courier. About twenty of them crisscross the capital by scooter or bicycle to meet the needs of individuals and businesses. Maximum guaranteed delivery time: 45 minutes for any delivery to Dakar where the company is confined for the time being.
Like his delivery guys, Bamba Lo is a fast person. Just four months after launching the app, the 31-year-old is in the running for the Hub Africa Prize, a Moroccan initiative that rewards the continent’s most promising start-ups. A great journey for this volunteer entrepreneur, who created a call center after a first professional life in consulting and studies in Paris and Quebec.
It was in his previous company that he came up with the idea of creating Paps. “We used to sell phone subscriptions back in the day,” he recalls. But it brought us little in the way. We wanted to go to the end of the process and deliver the chips for the phones ourselves. People then asked us to deliver a whole bunch of things. And I very quickly thought of creating a mobile delivery app in Africa, where the postal service is often broken. ”
In Senegal, the vast majority of people (96.5% according to the telecoms regulator) connect to the Internet through mobile. A huge potential that did not escape Bamba Lo. Neither one nor two, the young man returns to the country. With his 2,000 euros in savings, he is embarking on the design of a beta version of the app, which will be released in September 2016.
A month later, Paps won the Orange Innovation challenge award. The key: a check for 2 million CFA francs (3,000 euros) and privileged access to the services of the telecoms giant. On Orange’s internal communication networks, Dakar employees are also invited to use the app to have meals delivered for lunch. A strategy that will also be duplicated at the United States Embassy in Senegal. “The idea is to multiply partnerships with administrations or companies, especially e-commerce, so that they use our service”, explains the young entrepreneur.
A rolling business
The start-up’s income comes from a small commission drawn on each race (usually paid between 3 and 4 euros). In addition, there are the partnerships that the entrepreneur has forged with several local e-commerce sites: Paps receives 10% on each of their sale delivered by his company.
A business that is rolling according to Bamba: his monthly profit exceeds one million CFA francs. In the space of four months, the Paps team quickly grew to include two developers, a graphic designer, two salespeople and a communications manager.
On the delivery side, Bamba draws its breeding ground among young students. “In Senegal, it’s very difficult for young people to find a job, even after they graduate from university,” he says. Hence his idea: to launch partnerships with business schools, in order to make Paps known to students.
The job can quickly pay off, with expected earnings of 200,000 CFA francs per month per courier – four times the minimum wage in Senegal. Income from which must nevertheless be deducted the price of the vehicle, whether it is a bicycle or a scooter, sold to delivery people in small monthly installments of around 30,000 CFA francs.
Service menus offered to customers
“We are very concerned about customer feedback,” pleads the founder. In order to secure users, the application offers them, for example, the possibility of analyzing the race in real time and of rating the delivery people.
The growth of his activity encourages the entrepreneur to see beyond Senegal. The young man is already prospecting in Côte d’Ivoire, so that he can set up shop there before the end of the year. He is also in discussions with the French entrepreneur Xavier Niel’s fund (Kima Ventures).